career

Job hunt help: 7 resume don'ts and do's

4. Don't reveal physical characteristics. A client of resume writer Kursmark attempted to communicate she was a presentable person and therefore qualified for sales in pharmaceuticals. "But she went overboard by providing her measurements, height, weight and the information that she used to participate in beauty pageants," Kursmark says.

Do focus on career and contact facts. Leave off information regarding race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, age, height or weight. Employers cannot hire you for your physical appearance. Doing so would run afoul of federal and possibly state anti-discrimination laws.

What's OK to put on your resume? Your full name, address and contact information, job objective, qualification highlights, chronological work history, and educational background or training.

5. Don't give full disclosure of your career history. One applicant revealed he was arrested for assaulting his previous boss on his resume. Other candidates become too wordy, filling multiple pages with career details, says Ryan Hunt, a career adviser at CareerBuilder.com. More isn't always better.

Do keep your resume to one or two pages, at most, eliminating extra and unflattering information. One exception: Make an attempt to clarify employment gaps, Hunt says.

"Explain what you've been doing with your time, whether volunteering, going back to school or gaining some new skills," he says. In the current economy, you won't be alone in your periods of unemployment. However, it is important to show you've been doing something worthwhile.

6. Don't play your reference cards right away, and don't play the wrong ones. One unfortunate job candidate was fired from different jobs, but included a reference from each one on his resume, according to CareerBuilder. Another applicant listed his dog as a personal reference, and yet another listed her email as "shakinmybootie."

Do save that white space for listing your accomplishments only. Listing "references on request" is seen as outdated, because it's assumed you'll offer references upon request, says Kursmark.

"It is definitely a faux pas to list all your references (with contact information) on your resume," Kursmark says. "It's not appropriate to share that much information with everyone to whom you give your resume."

7. Don't get creative or humorous with your resume. CareerBuilder's list of resume wrecks includes applicants who described moonwalking as a special skill, offered poems written by a husband-and-wife team and applicants who used a first name only, which is fine if you're Prince or Madonna.

Do use keywords from the job description in your resume, and stay on-topic as far as your relevant skills and experience are concerned.

"Managers are getting hundreds of applications, so you want to make a strong first impression," Hunt says.

Match your skills to the open job title, and hit your career highlights early in the resume. "You want to stand out for the right reason," he says. And that won't be because you were the grade-school moonwalking champion.

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